U.S. Rep Bradley Byrne offered an amendment on Tuesday to the federal Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that would cut funding to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives bureau (ATF), which Byrne says has grown out of control in recent years.
The budget amendment — which would have cut the bureau’s budget by 20 percent, or about $250 million — was not adopted, but Byrne stood by his proposal and the underlying point it was intended to make.
“Let me make one thing clear: I know that the ATF has an important mission to play in keeping our nation safe and regulating everything from firearms to alcohol,” said Byrne in a prepared statement, before outlining his objections to the agency’s well-publicized problems over recent years, including a rogue Mexican gunwalking operation dubbed “Fast and Furious” by critics.
“That said, in the last few years we have seen an outrageous growth in operations and regulations coming out of the ATF,” the second-term congressman from Alabama’s 1st District wrote.
“How could we forget the Fast and Furious gun trafficking scheme that was allowed to go so far off track that 2,000 guns were allowed to flow to Mexican drug-trafficking groups. Worst of all, a federal law enforcement officer was killed with a gun from the operation.
“I am all for safety and responsible gun ownership, and the ATF does have a role to play in that, but this amendment would simply require ATF to return to its core functions and responsibilities. It would cause ATF to look at itself in the mirror, find areas where they can cut back, and refocus on their true priorities.
“Ultimately, this amendment is about protecting our Second Amendment rights while also pushing for real reforms to federal spending, and I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.”
See Byrne’s full remarks on his amendment below.